Thanks again to DavidW for engaging in this debate. It's been quite enjoyable.
In my 1st rebuttal, I quote him saying "Scripture forbids that Scripture be interpreted individually" in his opener. He never came back to it, but as I noted, this cuts the throat of his own position, yet did he ever deal with the implications which I identified? Did he ever recognise how this leads to the necessity of presupposing the truth of a church, and to the impossibility of testing said church by the Scripture?
From his 2nd rebuttal - "Paul here assumes a visible unity which faces occasional division ('that those who are approved may become evident'); sounds a lot like the Orthodox Church." Also sounds alot like Reformed Baptists - visible unity which faces occasional division. Does David display any recognition of this fairly-obvious fact? Does he recognise the tautological nature of his affirmation that his church has unity except when it doesn't?
Does he ever "prove, not assume, as he did with 2 Thess 2:15, the existence and God-breathed nature of some other alleged revelation" (my 2nd rebuttal)? From his 2nd rebuttal - "I don’t have to 'prove' anything here; the word 'or' between 'word of mouth' and 'our epistle' does that for me." Any exegesis to disprove my point that "or" means "or", that Paul expects the same message be preached orally as is written?
In his criticism of my canon1/canon2 distinction, did he ever substantiate his concerns, or prove his claim that this leads to an infallible church, over and against my position that canon2 - our knowledge of God's chosen canon - was sufficiently known by the church, and we can know that b/c we trust God?
Or respond to my constant pointing him back to the way God dealt with His people before the coming of Christ? In my 1st rebuttal's discussion of the Canon, for example? When he asks me about the "Great Apostasy" in his 2nd cross-ex answer, as though he were completely unfamiliar with the consistent and constant REMNANT motif all throughout the Old Testament?! What if an idolatrous Jew had asked Jesus that question about the people all the way through Israel's history, from the Judges to the Kings up to the Exile? After all, those who didn't bow down to the Baals were in the tiny minority, even sometimes completely invisible to history!
Did he ever deal with the point I commonly make to atheists, that "If God has not spoken clearly, sufficiently, and in a way understandable to people, then let us eat, drink, and be merry, for neither today nor tomorrow do we know anything about God, eternal life, atonement, sin, judgment, resurrection, or moral law. Indeed, I'd argue we have no basis for ANY objective epistemology or metaphysics."(1st rebuttal)?
Did he ever give us a Canon of all authoritative, infallible tradition from EOC? Judge for yourself whether his 1st and 2nd cross-ex answers even get close.
Did he ever answer my challenge in my 1st rebuttal: "But how do new concepts equal 'once handED down'"?
Did he ever correct his terrible reasoning with respect to 2 Peter 1:20? When he says "The question that Rhology must now answer in regards to Athanasius is this: whose beliefs more closely match those of Athanasius, Orthodox or Reformed Baptist? Obviously, the answer is Orthodox; and, since Rhology has chosen to quote Athanasius on this matter, he must admit, then, that Scripture is 'sufficient above all things' in teaching the Orthodox Faith," in his 1st rebuttal? Or his bizarre "Jude cites non-Scriptural books!" or "Christ celebrated Hanukkah!" argumentation? Or his atrocious handling of Matthew 19:7?
Does he ever show any recognition of the fact that we are both supposed to agree that Scripture is the Word of God? Why then his ridiculous countermaneuver in his 1st rebuttal trying to restate my argument with the Church judging between competitors such as the Book of Mormon, the Koran, etc?
Does David ever respond exegetically to my point that the Scripture expects disunity? Or does he simply play the very popular (if you're into Sola Ecclesia) counter-prooftext game? "Oh yeah? Well Scripture says you're supposed to be unified!!" As if that responds in any way to my point. Both are true, but does he show any recognition of that?
Speaking of counterprooftexting, didn't he do that with Athanasius?
From his 1st rebuttal - "In the quote, he is saying that the Scriptures are 'sufficient above all things' to show the falsity of the Arian heresy. A couple of sentences earlier, Athanasius states the exact same thing about the Council of Nicaea."
So which is it? Is the council sufficient above all things? Or is the Scripture? My position has plenty of room to allow for when early church writers are inconsistent or wrong. Does his, beyond judging all things by the standard of his modern church and ignoring that which doesn't mesh? David accuses me of misunderstanding Athanasius (his 2nd rebuttal), but if two different things are sufficient above all things, what other conclusion can the reasonable reader draw?
Does he ever respond to my treatment of Mark 7 in any satisfactory way? From his 2nd rebuttal - "confusing the issue here as being one of oral versus written, while it is a conflict between the 'commandments of God' and the 'traditions of men'" - this does not address my point, does it? His 1st cross-ex answer tries again, gets halfway there, then just collapses when he cites Vincent de Lérins.
He lamely attempts an analogy in his 3rd cross-ex answer: "There is also a textbook; this is the Bible. The textbook is the center and guide of the learning that goes on in that classroom, but it is not an authority over the classroom. To say that the textbook has authority over the classroom is nonsense; on the contrary, the textbook was written just for this classroom and has meaning only within this classroom." Did David go to a postmodern school or something? In my school, the textbook had many roles, one of the most important of which was the repository of the answers to test questions! If I wanted to know the truth about the topic (and how to pass the test), the textbook certainly was in authority in the classroom.
Also, don't you just love how he emasculates God's authority? The Bible only has meaning within the classroom? Tell that to Jesus, Who set the example and commanded us to proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins to the whole evil, nasty, unfaithful, sinning world!
In his 2nd cross-ex answer, he says: "A testimony to the reliability of this rule for maintaining the Faith is found in a comparison of the three most ancient Churches: the Orthodox, the Oriental Orthodox, and the Assyrian Church of the East....Each of these Churches utilizes the same method for maintaining the Faith... yet, other than those points on which they departed from each other 1500 years ago (the Miaphysitism of one; the Nestorianism of the other), they maintain exactly the same Faith..."
Oh, so apart from the heresy espoused by each, it's no problem? The heresy (Nestorianism) that EOdox like incessantly to accuse the Reformed of holding?
2nd cross-ex answer: "First, we do have "well-defined grounds for corrective authority;" in fact, we have several of them, including our Bishops, our historical Faith, and each and every Orthodox Christian." Notice the circular self-referential appeal. Did I ask whether he had bishops or a hierarchy, or did I ask him how he knows his church is in line with what God has commanded?
Yet more circularity: "And the most important point: the robber council departed from the Faith of the Fathers" - yet his evidences and the typical EOdox answer is that a council is known to be œcumenical only a posteriori. Did the church after the council accept it as holy and good? Given the pocked nature and inconsistent opinions of church writers down thru history, and since the "real" 7th council also departed from the faith of some before it in its iconolatry, this is a simple expression of blind faith as well as a tautology on David's part.
To quote my 2nd cross-ex answer: He cites Vincent de Lérins with all confidence and then, when questioned about it, retreats...: "It's not really ALL when it says 'all'". Or "a church council is ecumenical and infallible when the church comes over time to accept its conclusions". So, which is it? Descriptive or prescriptive? How can it be a command...when its acceptance by the people whose behavior and doctrine it's supposed to define is the determining factor of its alleged authority?
Bottom line - did DavidW give the believing Christian any reason to think there exists an authority parallel to God's Word? May such an execrable proposition perish before its adherents do!
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